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2011 eKartingNews.ca Review: Top-10 of 2011
 


2011 was another great year for karting in Canada, as well as Canadians in karting. We had Canadians winning races and standing on podiums all over the world in multiple different classes. On top of that, even though the entry-counts may be down, the competition across the country is some of the strongest we have ever seen. The Rotax engine platform once again stood out as the premier class Canadians turn to, but with Briggs and Statton back on the map, the entry-level competition now has a new path available which should help in the long run.

There were many headlines this year that stand out in my mind, and limiting it to ten was a very tough challenge. I know I may have missed some, and some may disagree with some of my choices, but nonetheless it was a great year to reflect on, and personally I cannot wait to get to Florida in the New Year and start off 2012!




 

Pier-Luc Ouellette earned his second Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals victory in Al Ain, taking the honours in DD2 (Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
Pier-Luc Ouellette earned his second Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals victory in Al Ain, taking the honours in DD2
(Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

1. Pier-Luc Ouellette Wins His Second Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals DD2 Championship

It was another historic week for Pier-Luc in Al Ain, the location of his first Grand Finals Championship. Although he didn't quite dominate in the same fashion he did in 2008, PLO surely proved why he is undoubtedly the best Rotax DD2 pilot in the world. Qualifying on the pole position, PLO lost only one heat, to fellow Canadian Nicholas Latifi, en route to a near-sweep of the event, including a nail biting final race. His win even caught the attention of Giancarlo Tinini as the CRG boss invited and recognized Ouellette at his annual CRG Prize Giving Ceremony.










 

Canada earned a total of ten International transfers to the RMCGF including all 7 available at the Pan American Rotax Max Challenge (Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
Canada earned a total of ten International transfers to the RMCGF including all 7 available at the Pan American Rotax Max Challenge
(Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

2. Canada - An International Rotax Powerhouse

On top of the 11 transfer spots to Team Canada by Rotax for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, Canadian drivers earned another ten spots at international qualifying events and series. First, Nicholas Latifi (DD2) and Parker Thompson (Junior) scored Gatorz Challenge of the Americas championships in March to be the first drivers on Team Canada. Then one week later in Ocala, Florida, Mike Vincec, eventually replaced by vice-champion Darren White, won the Rotax DD2 class at the prestigious Florida Winter Tour. Later in the year after all the National Canadian positions were awarded, Canadians trekked south once again, this time to the Pan American Rotax Max Challenge and stole all seven transfer spots up for grabs, a feat our American friends weren't too proud to witness. Add in strong results by Jesse Lazare, Alex Guenette and Nicholas Latifi in the Rotax Euro Challenge, Canadians surely knew how to make a presence outside of our own country.






 

Lance Stroll scored an impressive runner-up finish in the WSK Euro Series race at La Conca in his maiden season in KF3 (Photo by: Chris Walker - Kartpix.net)
Lance Stroll scored an impressive runner-up finish in the WSK Euro Series race at La Conca in his maiden season in KF3
(Photo by: Chris Walker - Kartpix.net)

3. Lance Stroll Podiums in WSK Competition

After a handful of successful seasons in Canada, Mont-Tremblant native Lance Stroll moved across the Atlantic to take part in a full season of KF3 competition with the support of Dino Chiesa and Zanardi kart. As a rookie in KF3, Stroll often took to events with nearly 100 entries in the class. Although the learning curve was quite steep, Stroll, a Ferarri Driver Academy pilot, was up for the challenge and at the WSK Euro Series race in La Conca, Italy, Stroll proudly flew the Canadian colours with an impressive second place result.











 

Lazare became a two-time Canada Champion after his perfect run in Mont-Tremblant (Photo: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
Lazare became a two-time Canada Champion after his perfect run in Mont-Tremblant
(Photo: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

4. Jesse Lazare Conquers Rotax Junior at ASN Canadian Nationals

In a year that saw young Jesse Lazare bounce around like a pinball throughout the early stages of the season, yes some self-induced, Jesse Lazare entered the ASN Canadian National Championships at Mont-Tremblant with redemption on his mind. After being disallowed to race in 2009, then losing his chain in the prefinal in 2010 and forced to drive from the back to the front in the final, Lazare was determined to earn his second National Championship. Qualifying on the pole position, Lazare never lost sight of the lead, leading every lap of competition in each heat, prefinal and final to add another impressive stat to his CV. The emotional victory brought a smile to the teenagers face that spread from ear to ear.








 

Tyler McEwan stunned everyone in New Castle, taking control of the Rotax DD2 class en route to victory and a birth on Rotax Team Canada (Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
Tyler McEwan stunned everyone in New Castle, taking control of the Rotax DD2 class en route to victory and a birth on Rotax Team Canada
(Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

5. McEwan Who? Tyler McEwan Wins Pan-Am DD2 Final in New Castle in Dominating Fashion

Burlington native Tyler McEwan travelled to New Castle, Indiana, for the Pan American Rotax Max Challenge Finals knowing it could easily be his last shot at making it to his first Rotax Grand Finals ever. An always fast pilot, McEwan has flown under the radar through his years of racing, especially with so many standout pilots in the DD2 class, but it seemed a different McEwan showed up in New Castle. Qualifying on the pole position, McEwan muscled through both rain and dry conditions throughout the weekend to win the DD2 final in convincing fashion, earning a trip to the Grand Finals as well as impressing the judging panel for the 'Hinchtown.com Canadian Karting Award Shootout' as he was selected to attend.









 

Chris Glover was able to earn the top Rotax Senior honours in the 2011 Western Canadian Championships (Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
Chris Glover was able to earn the top Rotax Senior honours in the 2011 Western Canadian Championships
(Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

6. Chris Glover Still Has It; Wins Rotax Senior Western Canadian Championship

At the tender age of 31, Chris Glover continues to enjoy racing in the toughest class the West has to offer, mainly against drivers at least ten years younger than him. However, this only acts as determination for Glover and for the second time in three years he earned top honours in the Rotax Senior class in the Rotax Western Canadian Championship, and the trip to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in the process. Although the Grand Finals didn't quite go as planned for Glover, there is a good chance he could finally 'move-up' to Masters in 2012 and challenge Scott Campbell for the top spot.










 

The 21-member strong Rotax Team Canada in Al Ain, UAE was the largest delegation ever at the RMCGF (Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
The 21-member strong Rotax Team Canada in Al Ain, UAE was the largest delegation ever at the RMCGF
(Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

7. Team Canada Sends Record Number of Drivers to RMCGF

With 21 Canadian drivers qualified for the 2011 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Al Ain, UAE, Canada set a new Rotax record for the amount of drivers representing a country at the Grand Finals. But it wasn't just the driver presence that was noticed in Al Ain. With fans bearing red and black 'Team Canada' tees all over the grandstands and viewing areas, Canadian supporters were noticed everywhere cheering on drivers in all categories.











 

Nicholas Latifi impressed everyone with a win in the DD2 A vs B heat race, leading nearly every lap in the process (Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)
Nicholas Latifi impressed everyone with a win in the DD2 A vs B heat race, leading nearly every lap in the process
(Photo by: Cody Schindel - Autosports Media Group)

8. Latifi Wins RMCGF DD2 Heat; Nearly Wins Final

In only his third full season of karting, Nicholas Latifi has expressed his learning curve every time he has hit the track. But in Al Ain at this year's Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, Latifi quickly became a threat for victory early on, qualifying sixth (with only one qualifying lap), and winning the first heat race. Fighting off past Grand Finals champions, along with teammate Pier-Luc Ouellette, Latifi had an entire Canadian karting nation saying 'Wow!' Then after joining Ouellette on the front row to start the final, Latifi had a shot at the win or the podium until the final lap where he moved off track by a fellow competitor.










 

Robert Wickens was invited to take part in the 2011 EDRF Kart Masters Indoor Race in Bercy, France, featuring many Formula 1 and motorsports stars. (Photo by: Chris Walker - Kartpix.net)
Robert Wickens was invited to take part in the 2011 EDRF Kart Masters Indoor Race in Bercy, France, featuring many Formula 1 and motorsports stars.
(Photo by: Chris Walker - Kartpix.net)

9. Robert Wickens Races in Celebrity Indoor Kart Race in France

An invitation he could not decline, Robert Wickens jumped at the opportunity to compete in this year's ERDF Kart Masters event in Bercy, France. The all-indoor, all-electric kart race featured major racing stars from around the world including Paul di Resta, Jules Bianchi, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Gary Paffett and many more. Wickens was able to transfer to the Stars A-Main in race one, only to be crashed out early on. Lance Stroll was also in attendance taking part in the ten-kart Invitational Junior division.










 

James Hinchcliffe was awarded the 2011 Sunoco Indycar Rookie of the Year award (Photo: IndyCar)
James Hinchcliffe was awarded the 2011 Sunoco Indycar Rookie of the Year award
(Photo: IndyCar)

10. Former Canadian Karters Making it 'Pro'

Karting teammates at one time, Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe dominated the Canadian international motorsport headlines in 2011. Wickens finally earned his first European formula car championship taking the World Series by Renault Formula 3.5 Championship along with being named as official reserve driver for the Marussia-Virgin-Racing (MVR) F1 Team, even earning a Friday practice session at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix. Wickens also turned heads at the recent F1 young drivers test, posting the fastest time in the Renault F1 Car as well as the MVR F1 Car.

For Hinchcliffe, he finally made his transition to the 'Pros' lining up with the Newman-Haas IndyCar team for 2011. Even though his missed the first race of the season, Hinch would quickly turn heads on the road/street courses qualifying eighth in his series debut, earning a couple fourth place results as well as leading 26 laps at Mid-Ohio. A great year resulted in Hinch earning the Sunoco Indycar Rookie of the Year award.
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